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I visited the studio of Mr. Rembrandt Peale. He is the son of the earliest portrait painter that America can boast of, and his father seems to have been an enthusiast in the art (as this gentleman is himself), for he named two of his sons Rembrandt and Titian, and educated both as painters. Mr. Rembrandt Peale was personally acquainted with General Washington, and painted a large equestrian portrait of him, which he preserves in his studio. The charger is white: The picture appeared to me to possess much merit as a work of art; and the likeness has been pronounced to be faithful. Washington's head, as here delineated, is obviously large; and the anterior lobe of the brain is large in all directions; the organ of Benevolence is seen to rise, but the moral organs disappear under the hair. The temperament is bilious-sanguine; the action of the muscles of the mouth strongly express Sensitiveness and Firmness, and the eyes bespeak these qualities combined with Cautiousness. The general expression of the countenance is that of sagacity, prudence, and determination.
It is deeply to be regretted that there is no cast of the head of Washington taken from nature. I have examined the common busts and portraits of him, but they show only that the head was large, and that its general proportions were harmonious. I have heard the question discussed both in England and the United States, whether Washington was really a great man; seeing that he did not, in any particular direction, show any extraordinary power. Judging from his conduct and his writings, as well as from what we know of his head, I infer that he was one of those rare specimens of humanity in whom nearly all the mental organs are largely developed, and in harmonious proportions. Such a combination produces a character distinguished for mental power in all directions. His temperament, as already stated, seems to have been sanguine-bilious, giving activity and the capacity of long endurance. He exhibited a constancy which no difficulties could shake, an honesty of purpose and ardor of patriotism which no temptations could overcome or opposition subdue. He placed the welfare of his country on its true basis, that of industry and virtue; and he always regarded its interests before his own. In him there was no important quality of mind deficient, and no quality in excess; there were in his understanding no false lights, and no deficient lights. He gave to every thing its due weight and no more. He was dignified, courteous, and remarkably just. He was brave, yet cautious and politic; quick to perceive and prompt to execute; always acting at the right time, and in the right manner. Those who say that he was not a great.man, can merely mean that he displayed no one quality in excess; that he showed no coruscations of isolated talent, and performed no individual acts calculated to dazzle or amaze mankind. But he accomplished a very great achievement, the independence of his country, by a succession of most wise and efficient measures, every one of which showed mental superiority. In short, he displayed in a long career both of adversity and prosperity, that sterling worth of soul, that clear and sound judgment, that grandeur of the whole man, which rendered him far more great and estimable than those geniuses who are endowed with splendid partial talents combined with great defects. In my opinion, Washington was one of the greatest men that ever lived.
GEORGE COMBE, phrenologist, was born near Edinburgh, October 21, 1788, and died at Moor Park, Surrey, England, August 14, 1858. He was bred to the legal profession, but in 1816 devoted himself to the propagation of the science of phrenology, as a writer and lecturer. He visited the United States in 1838, and delivered 'many lectures on the subject in various parts of the country. His journal kept during the time was published at Philadelphia in 1841, with the title “Notes of the United States of America during a phrenological visit in 1838–40." 2 vols., 12mo. Our extract is a portion of the entry at Philadelphia, for January 18, 1839.
WASHINGTON had not those brilliant and extraordinary qualities which strike the imagination of men at the first glance. He did not belong to the class of men of vivid genius, who pant for an opportunity of display, are impelled by great thoughts or great passions, and diffuse around them the wealth of their own natures, before any outward occasion or necessity calls for its employment. Free from all internal restlessness and the promptings and pride of ambition, Washington did not seek opportunities to distinguish himself, and never aspired to the admiration of the world. This spirit so resolute, this heart so lofty, was profoundly calm and modest. Capable of rising to a level with the highest destiny, he might have lived in ignorance of his real power without suffering from it, and have found, in the cultivation of his estates, a satisfactory employment for those energetic faculties, which were to be proved equal to the task of commanding armies and founding a government.
But when the opportunity presented itself, when the exigence occurred, without effort on his part, without any surprise on the part of others, indeed rather, as we have just seen, in conformity with their expectations, the prudent planter stood forth a great man. He had, in a remarkable degree, those two qualities which, in active life, make men capable of great things. He could confide strongly in his own views, and act resolutely in conformity with them, without fearing to assume the responsibility. * * * *
The same strength of conviction, the same fidelity to his own judgment, which he manifested in his estimate of things generally, attended him in his practical management of business. Possessing a mind of admirable freedom, rather in virtue of the soundness of its views than of its fertility and variety, he never received his opinions at second hand, nor adopted them from any prejudice; but, on every occasion, he formed them himself, by the simple observation or attentive study of facts, unswayed by any bias or prepossession, always acquainting himself personally with the actual truth.
Thus, when he had examined, reflected, and made up his mind, nothing disturbed him; he did not permit himself to be thrown into, and kept in, a state of perpetual doubt and irresolution, either by the opinions of others, or by love of applause, or by fear of opposition. He trusted in God and in himself. “If any power on earth could, or the Great Power above would, erect the standard of infallibility in political opinions, there is no being that inhabits the terrestrial globe, that would resort to it with more eagerness than myself, so long as I remain a servant of the public. But as I have found no better guide hitherto, than upright intentions, and close investigation, I shall adhere to those maxims, while I keep the watch."*
To this strong and independent understanding, he joined a great courage, always ready to act upon conviction, and fearless of consequences. “What I admire in Christopher Columbus," said Turgot, "is, not his having discovered the new world, but his having gone to
* Letter to General Knox, dated Mount Vernon, 20 September, 1795.—ED.